On trial in Chicago is Sami Khoshaba Latchin. He is charged with spying for Saddam Hussein, and the trial provides an example of the danger of answering to those civil libertarians that become hysterical with regard to the NSA wiretaps. From today's Chicago Tribune:
Latchin's attorneys have asked [U.S. District Judge Rebecca] Pallmeyer to require the government to confirm or deny whether agents have listened in on Latchins' telephone conversations without getting a court order.
Prosecutors have refused to discuss the matter because it concerns classified information. They did agree, however, to provide answers privately to Pallmeyer.
The defense raised the question of wiretaps after press reports revealed the National Security Agency has collected data about the telephone activity of Americans without getting a court's approval.
Pallmeyer said Monday that she has privately reviewed documents provided by the Justice Department that apparently relate to the wiretap question. She did not reveal, however, whether she concluded that the NSA has listened to Latchin's calls.
It may ultimately be that no wiretaps are implicated, but the allegations are such that the need for such a program, or one very similar, is evident.